AN ALLEGED Dissident republican training camp was in advanced preparations for an attack on Police or the public, a court has been told. Prosecutors also claimed suspects were covertly recorded discussing methods, recruitment, acquiring arms and even their willingness to accept the negative publicity killing a PSNI officer would bring.

During months of surveillance in Co Tyrone, one of those under scrutiny declared it was no longer a challenge to ” target Catholic officers “. Reference was also allegedly made to the January 2010 car bombing in which Constable Peader Heffron was critically injured and had to have a leg amputated. The High Court was told that one of those recorded had stated: ” Heffron went like a dream.” The investigation was said to be into a group of dissident republicans styling themselves on the ideology, philosophy and activities of the Real Irish Republican Army ( RIRA ), without being affiliated to that organisation. Details emerged during a bail application by one of those accused of being at the alleged camp in Formil Wood on the Gorticashel Road, ouside Omagh.

Terence Aidan Coney, a 33-year-old architect fom Malabhui Road in Carrickmore, denies charges of preparation of terrorist acts, possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life or property, and attending a place used for terrorist training. It was claimed that he attended the camp with two other men and a women on March 30 when 200 rifle rounds were fired. Balloons and pieces of tin had been pinned to the trees as targets, a judge was told. Only 15 shell cases were recovered, with the prosecution alleging a deliberate attempt was made to ” cleanse ” the area of evidence.

According to Crown counsel Fiona O’Kane, witnesses have linked Coney to the scene near Greencastle. ” The police case is that the shooting that took place in the woods that day was terrorists practising for potential attacks, practising in the advanced stages of mounting an attack on police or other members of the community,” she said. According to the barrister these suspicions were also supported by tape-recorded conversations said to have been between two co-accused. Sharon Rafferty ( 37 ) from Cavana Linn in Pomeroy and Sean Kelly ( 46 ), from Duneane Crescent, Toomebridge, were covertly monitored at various locations throughout Co Tyrone from last year until April this year, the court heard.

Mrs O’Kane said the discussions referred to firearms training, the penetrative power of a .22 rifle against human beings and walking up to people and ” putting nine rounds in them”. Other talks touched on ” army business”, active service units, accepting resignations, attending leadership meetings, recruiting for their organisation, the acquisition of arms, mobile police stations and providing finance for the organisation. ” During some of the conversations, in particular in relation to the murder of Constable Ronan Kerr, Rafferty and Kelly discussed the negative publicity that killing a police officer brings,” Mrs O’Kane said. ” However they were prepared to accept this.”

She accepted that none of the alleged remarks can be attributed to Coney. But Mr Justice Maguire was told that police believe Coney was deliberately recruited because of his lack of a criminal record meant he was ” clean “. Searches carried out at the home of his co-accused brother, Gavin Joseph Coney ( 34 ), of Gorticashel Road, Omagh, led to the recovery of a legally-held rifle. A silencer, extra ammunition, four balaclavas, dark jackets, gloves and pairs of white trainers were also found, according to the prosecution. Terence Aidan Coney’s barrister, Eugene McKenna, stressed that his client vehemently denies any involvement with dissident republicans or support for them. He argued that most of the prosecution case had focused on material gathered on the other suspects. ” Therefore to suggest that this applicant was involved in anything more than a legitimate recreational activity, it is essential for the prosecution to tie him in with the co-accused,” he said. Mr McKenna told the court he had scanned transcripts from seven hours of surveillance and found only three mentions of the name Aidan which could possibly refer to his client. Following further discussions the bail application was adjourned so that a more in-depth examination of the material can be carried out.



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